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Grateful Dead Member’s Family Taking His Business Out of California

The family of Grateful Dead member Jerry Garcia is relocating his business from California.

According to SFGATE, Garcia is considered “one of the most iconic pot smokers in California history.”

However, a spokesperson confirmed to the outlet, the Garcia Hand Picked brand, launched in 2020 by his family, is being taken of California.

Andrew DeAngelo, a cannabis consultant, told SFGATE the family realized: “You can’t make any money in this market.”

He added, “Not only is Garcia leaving, a lot of people are leaving.”

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DeAngelo suggested it is “a real shame that California is losing out. We’re losing out on jobs and economic activity and other places are benefiting from that.”

A spokesperson from Holistic Industries, the brand’s parent company, also issued a statement in an email to the outlet.

“We’re taking a pause in California. We want to ensure CA consumers have the highest quality flower for the long term, so we are in the process of choosing a new local partner for cultivation, production, sales and distribution of Garcia Hand Picked in CA,” the spokesperson said.

SFGATE reported pot companies are prohibited by federal law from deducting most business taxes from their federal taxes.

Is this a smart business decision?

As a result, pot businesses pay as high as 80% in the federal tax rate.

“This was a hard decision for them, they love California,” DeAngelo said.

He continued, “They were born and bred here. This is very painful for them, I guarantee that.”

Eli Melrod, the CEO and co-founder of Solful dispensary chain, commented on the brand’s exit from California.

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“California is probably the most competitive cannabis market in the country. It is a market where there are a lot of brands fighting for shelf space,” Melrod said to SFGATE.

He added, “I think for some folks the margins and the challenges in California make it better for them to focus on other states.”

Still, individuals in Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts and Oregon can access the brand.

Garcia died in August of 1995.

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Grateful Dead Legend Jerry Garcia’s Family Pulls Pot Business Out Of California Over Taxes

Grateful Dead legend Jerry Garcia’s relatives are truckin’ out of California, apparently because the Golden State’s high taxes and anti-business climate are just too harsh on the family’s marijuana business.

Garcia Hand Picked, which the late guitar wizard’s family started in 2020, told SFGate.com the company just can’t make a go of it in the Golden State. An industry expert blamed high taxes, competition from the black market, and soaring crime for the decision to pull out of California.

“We’re taking a pause in California,” a spokesperson for Garcia Hand Picked parent company Holistic Industries said. “We want to ensure California consumers have the highest quality flower for the long term, so we are choosing a new local partner for cultivation, production, sales and distribution of Garcia Hand Picked in CA.”

Garcia, who died in 1995 at age 53, was born in San Francisco and founded the band there in the 1960s. More than two decades after his death, California legalized recreational marijuana, a policy decision the hard-partying musician would have certainly endorsed.

“This was a hard decision for them, they love California,” cannabis industry expert Andrew DeAngelo told the outlet. “They were born and bred here. This is very painful for them, I guarantee that.”

DeAngelo said the Garcia family is facing the same high-tax, high-crime realities as other Golden State entrepreneurs. Since 2020, California has seen an exodus of high-profile companies, with many going to red states with lower taxes and safer streets.

“Not only is Garcia leaving, a lot of people are leaving,” he said. “It’s a real shame California is losing out.”

The Garcia Hand Picked brand of marijuana will still be sold in Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Oregon.

California, which has a 15% sales tax on marijuana, has reaped over $4 billion in tax revenue since legalizing pot. It also collects money from retail licenses, which can cost $100,000 annually, taxes on growers, and local taxes which are in addition to the state levies. But legal cannabis companies complain that the state doesn’t do enough to crack down on the black market, allowing unfair competition to flourish.

Last November, GreenMarketReport.com warned of a “mass extinction event” for California’s legal pot industry, reporting that licensed companies were carrying unsustainable debt and were unable to pay their bills.

“In the next 12 months, I think half the retailers are going to be in business,” Matt Yamashita, founder of Grizzly Peak, a Bay Area indoor grower and distributor, told the site. “I think 80% of the people in business will be gone. It’s inevitable. The bubble is going to burst.”




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When the Grateful Dead backed up Bo Diddley

There were a lot of wild pairings that played with the Grateful Dead over the years. Some names are familiar and understandable, like fellow San Francisco rockers Jefferson Airplane and Santana. For the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen in 1973, the Dead played to over half a million people with The Allman Brothers Band and The Band co-headlining. But those are the standard acts: who were the weird people that the Dead played with?

Well, how about the New Year’s Eve show in 1982, where Etta James and the Tower of Power horn section joined the band? There’s the 1970 show where the Dead played sets in between Miles Davis. If those are a little too standard for your tastes, might I recommend the show from November 21st, 1970, that featured a literal chimp act opening for the Dead in Boston? The fact that I haven’t written about that event is beyond me.

But sometimes, things just line up perfectly. Take a mental trip back to March 25th, 1972. You’re standing in the Academy of Music in New York (later to be known as the Palladium), and the Grateful Dead take the stage. Only they don’t play any of their music. Suddenly, rock and roll legend Bo Diddley hops out front with his signature cigar box guitar and burns through some of his classic material with the band. Oh, and there are also a couple of hundred Hells Angels around you.

Even though it was technically a public concert, the show was mainly a benefit concert for the New York City chapter of the Hells Angels. Promoted as ‘Hells Angels Present: Jerry Garcia & Friends & Bo Diddley’, the show represented another ongoing chapter in the chummy relationship that the Dead had with the Angels. Even though they weren’t technically billed to play that night, the Dead took the stage after the set with Diddley and performed their own material as well.

The night was a legendary one for Deadheads. For one, it represented the first show to feature vocalist Donna Jen Godchaux as an official member of the band. For more obsessed Dead freaks, the show would be the final time that the Dead would play Muddy Waters’ ‘Mannish Boy (I’m a Man)’, which the band had trotted out only a single time the year before with Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan on vocals.

For those who wanted to relive the greatest moments of the Dead and Bo Diddley on stage together, the first official release to feature the pairing was on Dick’s Picks Volume 30. There’s a slight misprint on that release: it shows the opening song as being ‘Hey! Bo Diddley’, when the band had actually played the similarly titled ‘Bo Diddley’. Almost exactly two months later, the Dead played the actual ‘Hey! Bo Diddley’ at the Lyceum in London, England, for the first time on May 23rd, right at the tail end of their Europe 72 tour. It would be one of just four times that the Dead would play the song in front of an audience.

Check out Bo Diddley and the Grateful Dead playing ‘Mona’ down below.


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Jerry Garcia’s Grateful Dead weed brand is leaving California

Jerry Garcia is one of the most iconic pot smokers in California history. Born in San Francisco, Garcia led the Grateful Dead for 30 years as the city became an international beacon of counterculture, and he did it all while casually and openly smoking weed. His pot pipe is considered an artifact of California cannabis history.

But even the iconic Jerry Garcia name couldn’t survive California’s turbulent legal pot market.

The Garcia Hand Picked brand, launched by the deceased musician’s family in 2020, has pulled out of the state, a spokesperson confirmed to SFGATE. Garcia’s exit comes as cannabis insiders predict a “mass extinction event” for California’s pot industry, with thousands of companies expected to go out of business this year. 

Andrew DeAngelo, a cannabis consultant and former owner of Harborside, one of the state’s pioneering medical cannabis dispensaries, said the Garcia brand probably learned the same thing that all of California’s pot companies have realized: “You can’t make any money in this market.”

“Not only is Garcia leaving, a lot of people are leaving,” DeAngelo told SFGATE. “It’s a real shame that California is losing out. We’re losing out on jobs and economic activity and other places are benefiting from that.”



Garcia Hand Picked, like most celebrity brands, contracted out its cannabis growing and manufacturing to partner companies and then stamped Jerry Garcia’s face on the packaging. The company said they are looking for a new cannabis supplier, but declined to be interviewed for this story and did not elaborate on how long the brand would be on hiatus in California. Garcia Hand Picked is still available in five other states.

“We’re taking a pause in California. We want to ensure CA consumers have the highest quality flower for the long term, so we are in the process of choosing a new local partner for cultivation, production, sales and distribution of Garcia Hand Picked in CA,” a spokesperson from Holistic Industries, the brand’s parent company, said in an email to SFGATE.

California’s cannabis industry has faced huge economic hurdles in its first four years of legal sales. The state’s complicated cannabis regulations and high taxes add costs to legal operators, while widespread illegal farms and retailers undercuts legitimate companies. Limited access to banking means these companies pay exorbitant fees for simple banking services and have almost no access to loans. Federal law blocks pot companies from deducting most business taxes from their federal taxes, making pot businesses pay an effective federal tax rate as high as 80%

These factors have come together to make California a painful place to run a legal pot business. The majority of small legacy cannabis farms are on their way out of business and even the country’s biggest cannabis companies are leaving the state.

‘This is very painful for them’

Nearly a dozen states had legalized cannabis by the time Jerry Garcia’s surviving family members decided to start a pot brand built around the Grateful Dead frontman, who died of a heart attack in 1995. But the Garcias chose to launch their brand in California, the same place that Jerry was born, spearheaded an artistic movement, and died.

The Golden State featured prominently in that initial launch. An airstream painted with swirling psychedelic colors crisscrossed the state in late 2020 announcing the new brand. Esquire profiled the family as they smoked a bong in Oakland and asked, “If Jerry Garcia were a kind of weed, what would the high feel like?” The family told Esquire they were planning on opening a Jerry Garcia-themed cannabis consumption lounge at a dispensary in San Francisco, which never materialized.

Singer-songwriter Jerry Garcia, left, of the Grateful Dead and Bruce Hornsby perform at McNichols Sports Arena on Dec. 13, 1990, in Denver, Colo. The image was tinted by the photographer. 

Singer-songwriter Jerry Garcia, left, of the Grateful Dead and Bruce Hornsby perform at McNichols Sports Arena on Dec. 13, 1990, in Denver, Colo. The image was tinted by the photographer. 

Mark Junge/Getty Images

But there’s now only one jar of Garcia Hand Picked available in San Francisco, according to Weedmaps, and there’s no sign that any more will return to the Bay Area. DeAngelo, who said he did some early consulting work for Garcia Hand Picked but is no longer involved with the brand, said that leaving California was probably hard on the family.

“This was a hard decision for them, they love California,” DeAngelo said. “They were born and bred here. This is very painful for them, I guarantee that.”

Eli Melrod, the CEO and co-founder of Solful dispensary chain, said the brand’s exit from California was a sign that it’s a struggle for even good cannabis brands to make money in the state. 

“California is probably the most competitive cannabis market in the country, it is a market where there are a lot of brands fighting for shelf space,” Melrod told SFGATE. “I think for some folks the margins and the challenges in California make it better for them to focus on other states.”

The brand is still for sale in Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts and Oregon. It offers a range of cannabis flower, pre-rolled joints, and some colorful pot-infused gummies shaped like guitar picks. Its packaging features Jerry Garcia’s face connected to swirling, psychedelic colors, akin to Milton Glasser’s iconic 1966 poster of Bob Dylan

Melrod said he usually doesn’t sell celebrity brands at his stores because most celebrity brands have poor quality products, but Garcia was different. He said they had good cannabis grown by some of the state’s best outdoor cannabis growers, like Moon Made Farms and Sonoma Hills Farms. 

“We start from a place of skepticism because we’ve seen a lot of celebrity brands launch in cannabis that are really just basically a celebrity name on a product that is marked up,” Melrod told SFGATE. “We really appreciated the approach that the Garcia Hand Picked team took to sourcing. They worked with a lot of great legacy farmers in the Emerald Triangle.”

Jerry Garcia plays at a Grateful Dead concert at the Oakland Coliseum on Dec. 12, 1992.

Jerry Garcia plays at a Grateful Dead concert at the Oakland Coliseum on Dec. 12, 1992.

Steve Castillo / The Chronicle 1992

The Garcia brand’s departure is also a sign that customers could be getting tired of celebrity pot brands. There are so many famous people selling weed that even the rock stars are noticing that it might not be an easy business to get into: David Crosby told the Los Angeles Times last year that he wanted to start his own pot brand but said, “Celebrity brands didn’t turn out to work nearly as well as anyone thought they were gunna.” 

Indeed, Garcia Hand Picked isn’t even the first Grateful Dead pot brand. Drummer Mickey Hart launched his own pre-rolled joint brand called Mind your Head in 2019, although that brand also appears to be on hiatus. Its website is down and a brand representative could be contacted for this story.

Garcia Hand Picked and Mind Your Head could come back to the state, but for now, Deadheads in California will have to get by without smoking any cannabis blessed by the legendary band.






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Dig the Grateful Dead? You can celebrate their music two nights in Springfield

This weekend, in Springfield, Ohio, Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company is hosting Dead of Winter: a two night dedication to the music of the Grateful Dead. This Friday, January 27th and Saturday, January 28th, the shows will be played by two Grateful Dead tribute bands, Arrows of Neon (Friday), and Great Northern String Band (Saturday).

I spoke to the Dead of Winter organizer/producer and owner of Level Up Productions Brian Johnson about the event. My first question was about the creation of the show.

“It was created in partnership with Mother Stewart’s co- owner Kevin Loftis in response to the need to generate excitement and host and pay live musicians and entertainment outfits during what would normally be considered the slowest month of the year for both bands and venues. By creating this exciting series we’re able to pay local artists, bring business to the brewery and our production group, all while offering high quality entertainment to people who are looking for something fun to do.”

Seeing that this year’s shows will be the third series held in as many years, with the same theme, I asked Johnson about this. He responded, “We’ve rotated through all of the amazing Grateful Dead Tribute acts that our region has to offer over the last three years! Many of these groups even share band members. It really is an amazing community that’s growing around the continuing traditions of The Grateful Dead.” I expanded with an inquiry about the theme and the time frames of the event, and Johnson added, “We’re celebrating our 3rd annual “Dead of Winter” event at Mother Stewart’s this year and we can only see it growing from here! Working with Mother Stewart’s Brewing is always a treat as they’re so active in working to develop Downtown Springfield. I can only see this partnership growing and becoming a beloved January tradition.”

I was curious about the turnout from audiences over the years for the Dead of Winter series. Johnson said, “Given near sell out events the past two years, we are anticipating a similar high energy crowd and it is very possible we’ll sell out one if not both nights this year. As of 9:00am on 1/25/23, tickets were about a third sold and moving quickly.”

So, what can a Dead of Winter newbie expect to experience at these shows? Johnson revealed, “Doors open at 6:30pm and music starts around 7:30pm both nights. Both Arrows of Neon and The Great Northern String Band have an extensive catalog of Grateful Dead rehearsed and will probably play 2 and half to 3 hours each night. Mother Stewart’s has a full bar and many of their house made beers featured. They’ve also invested in an incredible sound system. Finally, we have invested in bringing SOS Lightshow to produce projection visuals across the whole venue for the whole night! It is going to be quite the experience!”

MS Dead of Winter header 2022

Event Details:

  • Dead of Winter: Arrows of Neon & Great Northern String Band at Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company
  • Friday, January 27th and Saturday, January 28th beginning at 6:30pm
  • 102 W. Columbia Street in Springfield, Ohio
  • https://www.facebook.com/events/1886608121671130




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Taping the Grateful Dead, 1965-1995’

 “My relationship to the Grateful Dead was fairly limited until I started getting tapes of their music when I was about 17,” acknowledges artist and author Mark A. Rodriguez. “I only had three Grateful Dead albums, so I wasn’t a completist in terms of their studio discography. I had Anthem of the Sun, Wake of the Flood and Blues for Allah, which are still some of my favorite albums. But I developed a relationship with the Dead through their live recordings.”

This seems altogether apt, as Rodriguez later gained renown for a series of sculptures based around Grateful Dead tape trading. That, in turn, led to his new book, After All Is Said and Done: Taping the Grateful Dead, 1965-1995. The first section of the hefty tome presents images of the colorful J-cards that accompanied Dead tapes. Then the work delves deep into the origins of the Dead taping section and tape-trading community through a series of interviews, images and documents drawn from the official Grateful Dead Archive at UC Santa Cruz— including some revelatory correspondence and official Minutes of the Meetings held by the group.

Rodriguez grew up in the Chicago area, and after he received his initial Dead tapes in 1998, he embarked on some early fact-finding missions that anticipated his efforts two decades later.

“I used to go to the Evanston Public Library, which is near the Northwestern campus and a bike ride from my house,” he recalls. “I would usually be in the stacks, looking at whatever data I could get, as far as my new musical interests were concerned. I wasn’t going deep into microfiche. It was mostly history books or magazine articles that I would gobble up.”

What are the origins of your Grateful Dead sculpture project?

It was prompted by a conversation I had with a fellow artist, Matt Siegle. We were working together at another artist’s studio as artist assistants, and we had lots of time on our hands because, as an artist’s assistant, sometimes you’re doing really nitpicky things. While we were talking, somehow we figured out that we both followed Phish back in the day. Then we started talking about Dead tapes and if there was a possibility of using that as an artistic medium.

As a result of that conversation, I decided to see if I could locate some tapes because I was in LA at that point, and my tapes were in Chicago. It wasn’t like my parents were going to send them to me, and I didn’t really want that.

So I posted a Craigslist ad asking if anyone had any Dead tapes they wanted to get rid of. That was in 2010, so we’re talking about a time period when CD-Rs had pretty much replaced tapes and the Internet Archive had already started amassing sound sources. It was a ripe time to step into this, and a gentleman from West Hollywood ended up replying to my ad and said, “I’ve got a hundred tapes; I’d be happy to give them to you.”

I met him in the lobby of his apartment, talked to him for a little bit and walked away with a hundred tapes. Then I sat with the tapes for a while, organized them in chronological order and got a tape deck to listen to what I had. I spent a little bit of time being with them and seeing what kind of phenomenological effect they had on me as objects. I was taking more of a critical and analytical approach to them rather than just being like, “Cool, I’ll play all these things, listen to the data and that’ll be it.”

I was trying to figure out if I could work with this as a medium. Eventually, I scanned in all of the J-cards and then I started to think about how to accumulate more tapes.

What I ended up doing was collecting tapes all across the country through Craigslist. I would go to any state that had a Grateful Dead kind of headiness to it, like California, New York and Massachusetts, as well as other spots like Montana, Oregon and Washington. I was checking Craigslist in every city that I could, putting in Grateful Dead keywords and seeing if anyone was giving away tapes.

This was a moment where people just didn’t really know what to do with this dead medium, not to make a pun, but they also didn’t want to throw them out. So it was kind of this funny dilemma reinforcing that these tapes could be charged spiritual objects that had individual histories assigned to them. They had a uniqueness that produced guilt in the owner if they chose to just throw them in the trash.

So I was able to get collections from all over the United States through that process and I quickly accumulated a few thousand tapes within a year’s time. During this era, something that always stuck in my mind was this website called One Red Paper Clip. It detailed the attempt of an individual to trade a red paper clip up to a house. So that always stuck in my head—“If this guy can trade a paper clip to a house, I can use the internet to get every single Grateful Dead show that has been recorded and is available on audio cassettes.”

I used Tumblr as the platform to attempt that kind of appeal. I decided to start posting J-cards from the day a certain concert happened. So on Dec. 28, 2011, I would post the J-card from Dec. 28, 1978. Finally, around 2015, I was like, “I have a lot of tapes. I need to s tart working on the art project.”

I had already spent a lot of time sifting in the stew of Grateful Dead tapes, but now I developed a way to work with them in a medium that also worked with my artistic process. It deals with systems, repetition, ubiquity, Americana and making art that removes my hand from the process so that it plays more into that semblance of an authorless kind of art.

Around 2015, I started dubbing tapes from what’s considered 1st Gen, which is the first sculpture in the series of tape sculptures that I’ve made with the tapes. I dubbed 1,700 tapes from 1st Gen and those 1,700 tapes would be included in 2nd Gen—along with the doubles that I had accumulated—so that both 1st Gen and 2nd Gen were similar to each other. Then I could move on down the line to further create that series.

At what point did you begin exhibiting?

1st Gen was shown in 2016 at a gallery named Park View in Los Angeles. Then 2nd Gen was shown at NADA Miami, which is an art fair. 3rd and 4th Gen were shown at the Frieze art fair in Los Angeles in 2019. At that point, it went into what is considered in the art world to be a pre-order. It started to be sold for private collections. So those first four versions were all shown, and then 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th have not been shown publicly.

Would it be possible for someone to remove the tapes and play them if they so desired?

They can play them but, as my intent comes into it, some of those tapes are not going to have the information in the most listenable condition. I will say further that it is my intent for there to be a mix in quality as part of what I’m trying to propose with this series of sculptures.

In general, my intent is for the person who purchases the sculpture—and wants to live with it—to understand that it’s more than just the wall of tapes. It’s also my artistic gesture, which is pointing to the phenomenon humans participate in by wanting to collect, accumulate and complete a history. In this sense, it’s a particular history that is quite unique in that it’s probably the most complete evidence of an ensemble band’s artistic output. You can basically collect their complete artistic output, which is quite unique. But what I’m also doing is muddling with that and making it incomplete by lowering the sound quality of these tapes, as I dub them to create the series.

First and foremost, it’s my hope that an art collector— or someone else who collects the piece—has some understanding of that. If they do want to play the tapes, they certainly are welcome to, but I also know that a lot of the people collecting don’t necessarily have tape decks and this isn’t really an interest of theirs.

When I exhibited, people often asked, “You have tapes in there that actually work? I thought it was just tape cases in there.” They’re always surprised that I went through the trouble of actually putting in tapes. That’s when I’ll explain that it’s all part of this endurance process, whereby I’m trying to manually override the completeness of the sound and the history as a part of my artistic intent.

So I could have done it in an easier fashion and pumped these things out. But for me, part of the pleasure is the pain of the endurance—of going through the whole sequence of selecting tapes, getting tapes, dubbing tapes and going through the whole rigmarole.

In the foreword to your book, Trixie Garcia mentions that you were the first person to approach her regarding her dad’s digital art. What was the nature of your inquiry?

At the time I got in contact with her, I was working on another book with two other people—Matt Siegle, who I had mentioned earlier, and a woman named Elizabeth Cline. We were all Deadheads in the art world in LA. During 2010-13, there was a funny phenomenon where we felt like we were closeted Deadheads in relation to an art world that wouldn’t take the subject matter seriously.

If I were talking to someone at an opening and they asked me what I was working on, and I would say, “I’m trying to collect every Grateful Dead show on tape,” that would be kind of laughable. They wouldn’t say, “Oh, that’s really interesting, why?” It would be, “You’re doing that? That’s funny.”

So during that time period, we kind of got together and found camaraderie around our fandom of the Grateful Dead. But we also were like, “How can we engage the art world to approach the Grateful Dead in more of an academic and critical way?” So we made this book that asked artists, writers, poets and different creative types how they would respond to the prompt of the Grateful Dead. It’s called If the Head Fits, Wear It and it’s mostly those types of responses.

As an editor, when I came upon Jerry’s digital art output, I thought it was really interesting. It was kind of crude but experimental because he was working with an Apple IIe or something like that which had fairly early graphic arts capabilities. I was fascinated by that, and we engaged a writer and art critic, Eli Diner, to write about it. I initially got in contact with Trixie, who helped me get examples to print in the book, which eventually was published in 2017.

What prompted the decision to create this new book?

Did you always intend to include all the archival materials in addition to displaying the J-cards? My original thought was that I wanted to make a book from all the J-cards I had been scanning for that Tumblr page. I was sitting on all this information because I had made the decision for the sculpture only to show the spine of the J-cards. There was a lot that couldn’t be seen, like the setlists and any graphic design that wasn’t visible on the spine.

Part of it was this weird, guilty feeling because I was working with these charged sacred objects that had more life than I could show in the sculptures I was making. I thought, “If I could pitch it as a coffee table book about J-cards, then that would ease the sense that I was doing a disservice to what I had amassed with the collection of tapes.”

That was the start of my thinking about it. I pitched the book as “the art of the J-card,” but I also proposed a history of taping, although that was very vague because I had never pitched a book to a publisher before.

It turned out that Anthology Editions was into it but then there was a three-year process of trying to get Grateful Dead licensing on board so that Anthology could use the trademarks of the Steal Your Face and the Dead Bear for advertising purposes.

With the previous book that I mentioned, we had been in contact with Rhino and it was a seemingly easy, although very long, process to get permission from them. We did this small publishing run—it was maybe a hundred books—and they allowed us to use the licensing agreement for academic purposes, which was generous.

In the beginning, when I was talking with Anthology, I was like, “I just printed this book so it shouldn’t really be a problem to get licensing.” But we were denied the first time. Then over the span of three years, I tried to make supportive connections within the music world, which eventually happened with Mark Pinkus and Bernie Cahill.

By the time I finally signed the contract with Anthology in late January 2020, I had been thinking a lot about how to format the book and what I wanted out of it. I decided that while making a book of J-cards would have been fine, I wanted to do something a little more exciting. I wanted to provide new information that hadn’t been published. I also wanted to talk to people internal to the organization of the Grateful Dead. On top of that, I was thinking about the art project and providing context as to why these J-cards exist in this format.

In February, I traveled to the Santa Cruz archive, thinking that I would look up all that I could find in the database about taping and the tapers section. I lost one day of research to a student strike that shut down the entire school, so I only had one day where I feverishly went through every single file I could. Then when the pandemic started, I had a lot of time to analyze everything.

Before I visited the archive, I interviewed David Lemieux with the thought that I would have extended interviews with all these people and then connect the dots with the documents that I located. As I started the interviews, I also began growing my contact list, and people like Stu Nixon or David Gans would lead me to other people.

So everything kind of grew. I ended up with over a thousand pages worth of interviews to whittle down. I also had the business minutes, which for me was this prize that I wanted other people to see. I knew it was something special that not everyone has access to, in terms of being able to visit the archive. There were a lot of documents that I wanted to have an excuse to be able to put in print. So the final section of the book was my way of finding a reason to do that and provide auxiliary information through interviews with the people who might have written a memo or might be mentioned in a particular section of a business minute item.

Can you talk about the graphic design choice for that last section, which feels a bit like a zine?

The whole aesthetic was based off a couple of key graphic arts entities. We started with Unbroken Chain, where the first issues are basically a broadsheet with a bunch of data crunched in between graphics. It looked cool, but it was a little too intense. So we tried to distill that a little bit more so that the sentiment was there and it gave us the ability to insert all these Relix interviews and Dupree’s Diamond News interviews. Most all the auxiliary interview information and auxiliary articles are inserted in a way where they correlate to what’s being talked about in the interviews, but the design is made in such a way that you can see the separation. So as a reader, it’s not like, “See item one, see item two” where it’s treated like a footnote. Instead, it’s just there. I was trying not to create too much pressure or preciousness to everything so that you don’t feel intimidated by it.

The people at Anthology weren’t hardcore Deadheads, so I was advocating for taking up page space with these things that might seem nerdy and minuscule. But when it came time to display the minutes, I wanted to show the whole page—so that you’re not only able to see what I’m trying to emphasize, which is circled, but all of this other stuff they were dealing with as a band and a group of employees. It’s not necessarily just about putting on the concert, playing the music and being done with it. There are lawsuits and products and sound systems and technology. It was important to me to be able to figure out a way to display the whole page or pages, so that a reader could assess how valuable or interesting that information was.

This was also true of the interviews, where I could have cut them up so that each subject is talking about the same thing as the other interviewees. That would have removed the context of the conversations and removed me as the author of the conversations. But instead of that, I thought it was more powerful to extend them.

For me, that section is a throwback to how I found out about the Dead going back to my days in the library. I thought about this while I was making that section and deciding how to display the information. Ultimately, I wanted to present it in a context where you could turn to any page and come away with something that could be connected to other things if you turned the page and kept going. But if you just opened to a single page, you’d also discover something that was cool in its own right.

Circling back to where we started, how close are you to amassing tapes of every Dead show? Can people track your progress and contribute?

I’m about 160 tapes away, but they’re not heavily traded shows by any means. I feel like I may have reached the end point of accessibility and that those tapes reside in the collections of old-school tapers. They likely don’t know about the project, don’t care about it, won’t allow those tapes to see the light of day or some combination of all three. I have cross-referenced different sources to confirm that it is theoretically possible to access those shows as tapes.

I’ve been offered magic two-terabyte hard drives from people who are like, “Why are you doing this? I have every show on hard disk. Why don’t you take that?” However, I’ve always denied that because I think part of what makes this meaningful is the endurance of actually finding these on tape. That rule set also doesn’t allow me to dub off of Archive.org.

The list is always on my Instagram, @Dead_Tape_Collector. It’s in bright yellow so that people can find it easily. But I’m at a stalemate at this point. I’ve tried my darnedest within my powers to try and find them. As visibility grows for my project, though, I’ll sometimes ask myself: “I wonder if these tapes are finally going to pop up?”




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LP Giobbi Brings New Life To Grateful Dead Staples With ‘Garcia (Remixed)’ [Listen]

DJ, producer, and multi-instrumentalist LP Giobbi offers new danceified interpretations of staples from the Grateful Dead songbook on Garcia (Remixed). Produced in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Jerry Garcia‘s debut solo album, Garcia, the eight-track collection hosts radically reimagined dance mixes of songs that became mainstays in the Grateful Dead’s live repertoire including “Deal”, “Bird Song”, “Sugaree”, “Loser”, “The Wheel”, and more. The album also features a psychedlic reinterpretation of the album’s original cover art by graphic artist Young & Sick.

Just the idea of remixing Jerry Garcia songs might sound sacrilegious to some Deadheads, but Giobbi honors the spirit of the original recordings far better than your average Grateful Dead cover band by sampling Jerry’s voice and guitar and constructing deep house grooves around them. Jerry’s singing in particular shines like never before in the context of Giobbi’s stripped-down arrangements, and her piano playing—she graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009 with a degree in jazz piano performance—provides a supportive harmonic foundation while adding a layer of sophisticated musicianship not typically associated with electronic dance music.

“Getting to remix Jerry Garcia’s entire first album is one of the coolest things I will ever be a part of,” said Giobbi. “Being raised by Deadheads, Jerry felt like a part of my family growing up. I’ve known his voice intimately since the womb and to this day his voice is synonymous with home. Getting to sit in the studio and listen to his creations and pull them apart and appreciate every part of them in a new way was beyond a dream come true. I felt so connected to my family, where I came from and where I’m going through this process.”

Born and raised by Deadhead parents in Eugene, OR, Giobbi began her music career as a pianist before stumbling upon the world of electronic music. When she began playing DJ sets in her parents’ vintage Grateful Dead tees, she was surprised to discover a significant overlap between the EDM and Deadhead communities. A friend then gave her some stems—i.e., individuated instrument tracks—from Grateful Dead recordings, which she began incorporating into mixes during her popular Dead House livestreams on Twitch. She was encouraged by Bob Weir‘s manager when the two were both booked to play a livestream benefit for Backline, and she was ultimately booked to play a DJ set at Dead and Company‘s Playing in the Sand destination event in 2022. Though the event was canceled at the last minute, Giobbi had prepared a set of Grateful Dead dance mixes, and when she was asked to remix Garcia in honor of the album’s 50th anniversary, she was ready and eager to take on the project.

“[Marc Allan at Red Light, who works with Trixie Garcia on the Garcia Estate], was like, ‘It’s going be the 50th anniversary of Garcia, and we’re going to rerelease the vinyl. Would you be interested in remixing some of the tracks?’ Giobbi recounted in a recent interview with Relix. “That was the craziest day of my life. I told him that, of course, I would. Then I said, ‘I’m sorry, can I call you right back?’ So I immediately hung up and called my parents. They were like, ‘Shut up!’ [Laughs.]”

In addition to being a musician and producer, Giobbi is the North American Music Director for W Hotels, co-owner of Animal Talk (a hybrid publishing company, record label, and artist collective), and founder of FEMME HOUSE, an educational platform, community, and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the lack of representation and equity in electronic music by empowering women and non-binary people in the technical areas of music. She recently performed at Dead and Company’s Playing in the Sand, where she threw down a high-energy set featuring selections from Garcia (Remixed). Check out video clips from the set below.

Garcia (Remixed) is available now on all streaming platforms. Listen via Soundcloud in the player below.

LP Giobbi, Jerry Garcia – Garcia (Remixed)

 




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Carlos Santana Joins The Grateful Dead Onstage At Oakland Coliseum On This Day In 1993 [Listen]

The early days of the San Francisco counterculture rock scene of the 1960s were a veritable breeding ground for talent. Many fabled groups came out of that time and place including the Grateful DeadJefferson AirplaneSantanaQuicksilver Messenger ServiceBig Brother and the Holding Company, and many more. But what was even more remarkable than the depth of the pool of talent was the deep-seated nature of brotherhood between these acts.

With all of these star-bound groups coming up at the same time, one could easily imagine a fierce level of competition between them. After all, there were only so many venues in San Francisco. Instead, however, these groups formed everlasting friendships as they rose up through the ranks together from playing for free in Golden Gate Park to sharing the spotlight at Bill Graham‘s Fillmore West and, later on, Winterland Arena.

As the decades passed, some of these acts fell by the wayside while others remained dominant touring draws for years to come. On January 26th, 1993 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum something of a San Francisco countercultural reunion took place on stage as the Grateful Dead were joined by Carlos Santana for a portion of the show.

Though Bill Graham died in 1991, the feeling through the latter half of the second set took on the laid-back nature of one of the rock impresario’s jam-packed bills at the Fillmore West. Old friends came together once more as Santana came aboard during the tail end of the “Space” jam and held on tight as the Dead fired up a Haight-Ashbury-era standard, “The Other One”. With cowboy Carlos at the wheel, trading leads with Jerry “Captain Trips” Garcia, the improvisation and spirit of brotherhood flowed like days of old.

The real test came with the following “Stella Blue” where Santana added his own sparing guitar phrases while leaving Garcia the spotlight on his ballad. The second set came to a climactic conclusion with another San Francisco Dead staple of “Turn On Your Lovelight”, though Bob Weir was now on vocals as opposed to the early days of Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. Santana then returned with the Grateful Dead to the stage once more for a rocking cover of “Gloria” to close the memorable evening.

Listen to Carlos Santana sit in with the Grateful Dead at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum 30 years ago today, January 26th, and check out some photos of the performance by Jay Blakesberg below.

Grateful Dead – Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum – Oakland, CA – 1/26/93

[Originally published January 26th, 2021]




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Jerry Garcia on why the Grateful Dead are so polarising

There are very few many outfits with as storied a history as the Grateful Dead. Led by the late Jerry Garcia, the Californian posse of hippies were the ultimate countercultural band. Preferring extended jams over the rigidity of the traditional set and prominent proponents of LSD, famously, the group had a penchant for enriching their undoubted musical ability with remarkable activities.

Whether it be embarking on a horrific acid trip worth $50,000 or establishing a core ethos significantly underpinned by the writings of Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac, there’s much to pick apart in the Grateful Dead’s extensive past. It’s a multi-dimensional tale that contains much substance, to the extent that almost none of their contemporaries can claim such a feat.

Despite Garcia, Bob Weir and the rest of the Dead earning a significant amount of kudos across their career, the band remain one of the most polarizing in rock music. For some listeners, the sunny Americana clicks straight away, while others are left wondering what all the fuss is about. Garcia approached this issue during an interview with Relix in 1980. The frontman and guitarist offered his opinion of why the group were musical marmite and likened them to pot. It’s a simple analogy but an appropriate choice of language. 

The musician said: “Well, that seems pretty cut and dry (laughs). I’m aware of that phenomenon, I guess. What happens is that someone turns their friends on to us in the same spirit or sense that they would turn their friends on to pot. They turn them on because they have a good experience and they have a good time.”

“It used to be real frustrating. I’ve talked to fans about this who have said, ‘Jesus, I invited 20 of my friends to this, and you guys played awful!’ (laughs). That stuff used to happen to us all the time. We’ve gotten to be a lot more consistent. So now, those people can bring their friends and at the very worst, they’ll get a nice, professional show.”

He concluded: “But I’m aware of that mechanism. The thing is that it’s an ongoing process. Our audience now has a very large number of 15, 16 and 17-year-olds. They’re kids who are obviously not from our generation. But are every bit as enthusiastic about what we did as any of our audiences have ever been. Our audience is larger now than it’s ever been. It’s more vital now than it’s ever been, and we’re happenin’.”

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